Naama Barak
December 4, 2023

Sometimes, words just can’t express what we’re feeling. And over a month into the horrendous massacre and ensuing war that have engulfed Israel, it seems like we often still can’t quite find the words.

After all, no words seem big enough to express how horrific the uncertain fate of the hostages is, the trauma experienced by massacred families and communities, or the worry over family and friends serving in the frontlines.

This is where art steps in, giving shape to feelings. Israeli artists struggling like us all with the situation have been pouring their hearts into their creations – whether through painting, digital art or music. 

We’re highlighting a few of their works to give insight to the mood prevailing in Israel, and hopefully also to provide with you with hope and relief.

Goodness dwarfed by cruelty

“In one moment, I feel like my life has turned upside down. The life of the whole country was turned upside down,” notes graffiti artist Benzi Brofman in his description of the huge mural he dedicated to the Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

“I find myself thinking about the nature of human beings, about our goals in life, about wars that have been and will be,” he adds. “I think about the amazing things I’ve been through during the past year, about all the love I’ve given and received back in Israel and abroad, about the good people I meet, and I just don’t understand how suddenly all this goodness is dwarfed by this horrifying cruelty.”

Renowned Israeli painter Zoya Cherkassky created a series of haunting images depicting scenes from Hamas’ attack on October 7.  

One of them, called “7 Oct. 2023,” shows a family from what must be their attackers’ viewpoint – with all family members looking at them in horror. 

Another, “A burned family,” evokes Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and depicts gasping figures stripped of their outward appearance. 

Cherkassy’s “The Survivor” depicts the anguish of a girl hiding behind a closed door while her family is slaughtered nearby. 

Lifeline

Art is coming to the aid of a community hit by the Hamas attack on southern Israel in a project called Lifeline

The community is selling prints created by a member of Kibbutz Re’im, Adi Drimer, who composed a mandala from the messages shared on the kibbutz WhatsApp group on the morning of October 7.

“They are coming closer. They are in my backyard. Urgent, urgent to Dvir’s house. Daria and Levi are alone. Dvir was murdered. Urgent. Please! Friends, lock the house and stay inside. Urgent, urgent. Please. The children are alone. Please,” are some of the messages incorporated into the work of art.  

In a breathtaking musical creation, the Koolulam social music movement is organizing a rendition of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer,” sung by the families of the hostages and by supporters across the world. The footage showing the families singing together in Tel Aviv is probably among the better things you can do for your soul these days. The completed project should be incredible.

Right after the war broke out, Koolulam also released a video showing a singalong of the Israeli classic “Chai,” a song about the Jewish people’s resilience through history, in a moving tribute to these difficult times.

Salute to Israel

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra also joined the efforts to lift Israelis’ spirits with a live broadcast of a special “Salute to Israel.”

The concert began with “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem, continued with Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim’s “Fanfare to Israel” and concluded with Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, “Eroica.”

“Dear audience, listeners and friends around the world,” conductor Lahav Shani said to the online audience in the middle of the concert. “We never believed that in our lifetime we would witness the violence and inhuman atrocities we saw in the massacre on Saturday, October 7.

“We are concerned for the safety of the hostages and hope for their swift return. Our hearts go out to those killed, to their families, to all those who are wounded in body or spirit, and to all who have lost their homes. We stand with the soldiers, who are protecting us in these hours. 

“It is at these moments that music has incredible strength. Music can contain and reflect all of our feelings, side by side.

“I wish us all better days,” Lahav concluded. 

The voice of the mothers

Women taking part in a performance by choreographer Galit Liss calling for the release of the hostages. Photo by Ascaf
Women taking part in a performance by choreographer Galit Liss calling for the release of the hostages. Photo by Ascaf

In the dance world, choreographer Galit Liss and designers Roni Levavi and Aviya Miron worked in collaboration with Suzanne Dellal Center to create a chilling performance installation that echoes the cry to bring the hostages home.

A tunnel was painstakingly constructed through the heart of the dance center, mimicking the tunnels beneath Gaza, where many hostages are being held in awful conditions.

Around 80 women also took part in the dance performance with the slogan “I’m a mother” printed on their Tshirts. They were accompanied by a soundtrack composed by Avi Belleli.

The tunnel installation at Suzanne Dellal. Photo by Ascaf
The tunnel installation at Suzanne Dellal. Photo by Ascaf

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